Your Village, Your History: Garvald

A date for your diaries…

Staff from the John Grey Centre’s Archive and Local History Team are running an event on Thursday 14 Apr from 7.00 till 8.30pm. Join them as they take you on a visual tour of Garvald’s history. A fun and informal presentation followed by tea and cake and a chance to share your memories of the village. Perhaps you have some items or images you would like to share? Please bring them along.


4 thoughts on “Your Village, Your History: Garvald

  1. James Houston

    Greetings from Troon! Sorry this may be ‘off topic’. I wondered if anyone remembered a Gorgon Munro from Troon (d. 1989) or his wife Myrtle [nee Shields] from Netherlee, Glasgow who apparently retired to Garvald in 1983. I’ve found in “Webster’s World: Columns from The Herald 1985-97” by Jack Webster that Gordon Munro’s experiences as POW on the 1945 ‘death march’ are recorded and might be of special interest to anyone who knew, or was related, to him.

    And having posted this to a Troon page it would be nice to track down a photo of the man.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    Gordon Munro from Troon was off to war in the 51st Highland Division, soon to be captured at St Valery and transported to prison in Poland. There he worked on a farm for five years until the Russians came close from the east. Now it was time for the German guards to set their wretched prisoners on a 1,000-kilometre march towards Germany in the dead of winter. Despite hunger, exhaustion and frostbite, Gordon Munro struggled to record the forced march. Let us just linger with snatches from the frozen hand of a courageous Scot as he pencilled secretly into a pathetic little notebook. His journey began on Burns Day, 1945:

    “The Russians very close. We could see German tanks firing. Started marching on roads thick with refugees and snow. Spent the most miserable night of our lives. Nothing to eat or drink; temperatures down to 25 below. Practically everyone suffered from frostbite. Saw a chap with one side of his face frozen—and he was unaware of it. Terrible amount of dead horses lying at roadside. This is a procession of cripples but we see worse than ourselves. The Russian PoWs in a bad way. Should one be unable to keep up with the column he is shot and left lying. Things going from bad to worse—but the war news is good. German civilians admit the end is not far off and they will be pleased. The Big Chief means nothing to them now. We are all in a weak condition and with lice to feed besides. Though we march miles with no conversation, when we pass through a town, it starts up and jokes are cracked. It takes an effort but shows the spirit is not dead.

    Many refugees have lost touch with their wives and children. As they go along, they stick notes on trees. I’ve seen a complete trunk covered with notes. Signposts are also used. They sign their names on the fingerposts which they are following. Guards refused us a drink of water. What a reception they got! Should this lot be with us when the war finishes, I guarantee one or two won’t live five minutes…. I arrived here bad-tempered. Shortly after, the church bells started ringing. It’s Palm Sunday and they have composed me. There must be a bit of belief in me yet. Now 50 kilometres north of Hanover … the Germans are in an awful muddle…. I think April is now the month. The guards broke into a store and got well oiled. Under the influence, they became sentimental and were saying before long we would be the guards and them the prisoners and not to be too hard on them. That depends! Yanks are getting pretty close. Last night I had the opportunity and have taken a walk….”

    [That “walk” meant escape for Gordon Munro and some friends. They hid in a wood, cold and miserable but helped with food by some Poles. Then the great moment arrived:]

    “The Poles came rushing madly down, shouting that the Yanks were there. They started us on a mad gallop too. The Yanks must have thought we were mad. We were laughing, shouting and clapping each other on the back. The Yanks received us well. Then to bed but not to sleep. Too excited. First full day of freedom after five years. What a breakfast! After 5112 years we are going home. No seats on the plane. We just sit on the floor. Most of the lads have never flown and are a bit apprehensive. Landed at Amersham, to be greeted by the WRI. At Euston, I caught the Glasgow train which was crowded and stood all the way. But great to be back in Scotland for the first time since October 1939. “

  2. Charles Runcie

    Jane – have tried to email you, but it bounced back. Please email or find me on Facebook, to get in touch. Good memories! Charles

  3. Charles Runcie

    Hope the evening goes well. I work in London and so not able to attend, but what are my memories? We lived at Garvald Grange from 1967 until 1991, before the steading became houses, and where my mother ran a successful pony stud. Half the houses in the village were not lived in full time, mostly holiday homes bought for around £500 each. The village had a police station, two shops (Mrs Bolton and the post office), a full time minister at the Kirk, and my brother was in the last ever class of the primary school. Dad worked in farming advisory services at Edinburgh University, and often passed on advice to the Lord Abbott re his farm, and we rented some land from them too. The abandoned POW camp was still there, a source of excitement for the children in the village. It was used by Catholic men who would come from all over Scotland to work voluntarily on the new monastery up the hill. There were often “men of the road” hitching a lift between Haddington and Garvald – heading for a night or two at Nunraw House – Dad would give a lift to. They were gentle souls, usually ex servicemen who could not adjust back to civvy street and taken to drink. I could go on but won’t, they were happy days!

    1. Janee shields

      Hi Charles I hope that you are well i remember you and your brother i worked at your mums pony stud and remember you coming home for Christmas from uni I think I believe your mum as still doing very well and keeps everyone in their place on the show pony circuit. So sorry to hear that your dad past away he was a lovely man and always had a great stash of chocolate pleas tell your mum that I was asking for her my name is janee shields and I got to know of her through Sandra wadelik. Was googling to see if there was any info on the web but can’t find much xx

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